Food
2000 Readers Poll
2000 Critics Picks
Best Bakery

For 16 years, this family-run business has been churning out some of the best cinnamon rolls, among other baked yumminess, here in Austin. Their Gâteau Marissa cake is so popular that people call up to reserve a slice, knowing that once out of the oven, it doesn't even last long enough to be put in the display case.

Upper Crust Bakery
4508 Burnet Rd.
512/467-0102
www.theuppercrustbakery.com

Best Barbecue

After two decades of searing Texas meats, this smoke has stories to tell. The last time our folks were in town, we took them here. The leisurely drive out to Dripping Springs impressed them plenty, but the meal won them over for good. Two days later, as they were about to return home, they were still raving about the brisket and how lucky we were to live in a town with such good Q. Don't we know it?

The Salt Lick
18300 FM 1826, Driftwood, 512/858-4959
The Salt Lick Round Rock, 3350 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock, 512/386-1044
www.saltlickbbq.com

photo by John Anderson

Best Breakfast

With a fourth location having opened up on the Drag earlier this year, the folks at Kerbey Lane keep spreading their kitchen magic across Austin. Their pancakes and omelets are legends in this town. Late nights and early Sunday mornings were made to savor this experience.

Kerbey Lane Cafe
3704 Kerbey, 512/451-1436
13435 Hwy. 183 N. #415, 512/258-7757
2606 Guadalupe, 512/477-5717
4301 W. William Cannon, 512/899-1500
3003 S. Lamar, 512/445-4451
2120 N. Mays, Round Rock, 512/879-2827
701 Capital of TX Hwy. S., 512/879-2820
2200 Aldrich #100, 512/879-2818
www.kerbeylanecafe.com

Best Cake Decorators

How can a retail outlet that fills orders for Lady Bird Johnson not make the top of the list? Cakes of every shape, size, and color are baked here. They can do completely original designs, create one from the theme of your choosing, or consult with you about ideas; they can even do like the big chains and scan your favorite picture into a computer and transfer the image onto your cake.

Best Caterer

Word of Mouth has reigned as Austin's top caterer almost since its inception in the mid-Eighties, and the talented team of Rebecca Wallace and Leslie Moore show no signs of slowing down. From their busy downtown compound, the dynamic duo and their crack staff can arrange a party for the president, a small romantic dinner, or a wedding reception for several hundred, all with equal aplomb.

Word of Mouth
2501 N. Lamar
512/472-9500
www.wordofmouthcatering.com

Best Coffeehouse

The dreamy smattering of Christmas lights in the night sky over Spider House's outside, coupled with inside lamps that put out only enough light inside to let you know you are alive, not enough to let you know that you are awake, makes for an intense relaxation experience. It's the sort of place that demands that you lounge, not sit, amidst the lattes and mochas. Friends try desperately to shake the compulsion to sit in silence and fail. Lovers realize there is something more magnetic than each other nearby and unlock lips long enough to sigh and sip an Italian soda. Spider House wraps itself around its patrons, feeding and relaxing them, before it decides to release them. Oh, and the coffee's real good, too!

Spider House Patio Bar & Cafe
2908 Fruth
512/480-9562
www.spiderhouse.com

Best Diner

While Austin may not be teeming with sleek, retro-chrome airstreamlined dives like our sister cities up north, we know "diner" from Adam. A diner is loud. A diner is greasy. A diner has good food. From deafening gangsta rap to droning trance to petrifying punk, from the overstuffed black bean beauties to the flapjacks that'd make Aunt Sassy sappy, the ambience and the food at Star Seeds Cafe screams 100% diner. Of course, if you don't want tinnitus with your breakfast taco, the staff will always be glad to assist you in getting the hell out.

Star Seeds Cafe
3101 Interstate 35 Frontage Rd
512/478-7107
www.starseedscafe.com

Best Home Delivery

Why get dressed and wait an hour for a table when there are competent folks who will gladly bring a perfectly lovely restaurant meal right to your front door? Other delivery businesses come and go, but EatOutIn's consistency and reliability make them our perennial favorite. With a menu guide that features some of the most successful restaurants in all areas of the city and a sincere commitment to customer service, Judy Davies and crew just can't be beat.

EatOutIn
4131 Spicewood Springs Rd. Ste. N-4
512/346-9990
www.eatoutin.com

Best Lunch Deal

Good and cheap? No, there's no catch. Kim Phung's Vietnamese fare is a throwback to Old Austin, a time when a filling, tasty meal could be had for less than five bucks. No wonder they win year after year after year!

Kim Phung Chinese & Vietnamese Restaurant
7601-I N. Lamar
512/451-2464
www.kimphungaustin.com

Best Neighborhood Grocery

We admit it. We can't help but envy folks who live in Clarksville and Hyde Park, because they still have neighborhood grocery stores, the last two locally owned and operated Fresh Plus outlets. These are the kind of stores where you can chat with neighbors, hang up a flier about your church supper, and cash a check with someone who actually knows your name. Of course, it doesn't hurt that they have real butcher shops, good selections of gourmet products, and excellent restaurants right next door at each location.

Fresh Plus
1221 West Lynn, 512/477-5574
408 E. 43rd, 512/459-8922
2917 W. Anderson, 512/419-7379
2401 San Gabriel, 512/524-1394
www.freshplusaustin.com

Best Produce

Visiting chefs from all over the country are regularly dumbfounded by the depth and breadth of the available produce selections we've come to take for granted at both Central Market stores. If it's in season somewhere in the world, the produce section here is likely to have it. These days, they'll even prep it for us and provide recipes on the best ways to cook it. What could be easier? Justifiably bedazzled by the bounty of produce, we then make our way to the retail beer and wine department, where a well-trained, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic salesperson is always there to assist us. No stuffy, pretentious wine geek but a regular gal (or guy) who just happens to have the up-to-the-minute scoop on the best wine deals in town. We live in grocery store heaven, and don't we know it?!

Central Market North
4001 N. Lamar, 512/206-1000
4477 S. Lamar, 512/899-4300
centralmarket.com

Best Special Occasion Restaurant

When people talk about Austin's great "quality of life," Jeffrey's has to be one of the components. This classy West Austin eatery has been Austin's special-occasion dining choice for just more than 20 years. They manage to stay on top by consistently offering wonderful food, relaxed but very professional service, and a comfortable, upscale, but understated atmosphere that is definitively Austin.

Jeffrey's
1204 W. Lynn
512/477-5584
www.jeffreysofaustin.com

Photo by John Anderson

Best Waitstaff

Why are these people smiling? And why do they seem to be having as much as fun as the guests? Could it be because Trudy's knows how to treat its people? When the waitstaff actually enjoys hanging together at the same place where they just did a daylong shift, you know you're in for one happy meal.

Trudy's
Trudy's North Star, 8820 Burnet Rd., 512/454-1474
Trudy's Little Texas Lane, 901-C Little Texas Ln., 512/326-9899
www.trudys.com

 
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